13 November 2021

A peek behind the curtain with Marissa Maiorana

A peek behind the curtain with Marissa Maiorana 

Marissa Maiorana is Champions of Magic's resident aerialist as well as a sensational assistant to the magicians.  Learn more about Marissa, in the third of a series of interviews leading up to the Champions of Magic World Wide Wonders Tour shows in Kitchener and Peterborough early next year.

What is your first memory of magic?
When I was really young, maybe around 6, my parents got me a magic kit. I can’t remember what was in there except for this underwhelming color changing lollipop. I thought it was the coolest thing at the time though. I put on performances for family even though I had no idea what I was doing.
What surprised you most about touring with magicians?

As far as the magicians in our show, I was surprised with everyone’s willingness to teach me about magic. I truly love learning new skills and once I learned how it all works it made me respect magic even more.


Marissa Maiorana flying high.
Photo credit: William Balfour, Spectra Experiences. Oshawa 2019.


What is the most annoying thing about touring with magicians?

When I first joined, I had no idea how any of the magic worked and felt so out of the loop. I’m inquisitive by nature and try to find the answers to everything, so you can see how this frustrated me to no end. There were a lot of pranks pulled on me while trying to figure out how the magic was done, but along the way I did get my answers.


Have you learned how to do any magic since you joined Champions of Magic?

I mostly stick to being the woman in the box, there’s a lot of magic involved in being an assistant. I did learn a rubber band trick though, and went down in flames trying to learn card manipulation. If I were to be a magician, I’d probably do escapes since that feels most in line with being an aerialist.


Who inspires you? 

More of a what than a who, but music is my biggest inspiration for what I do. It’s what I base acts around, and it’s one of the main reasons I decided to make performing a career. I’ve never been much good at any of the instruments I’ve tried, so working closely with music every day is the next best thing. For magic, I’ve pulled inspiration from watching videos of Jinger Leigh perform. Her movement quality is absolutely incredible.


In this age of computer and robotic wizardry, why do you think audiences are still drawn to mentalism, sleight of hand, and illusion? 

There’s something about seeing a trick you can’t explain that is highly entertaining. It really does make you believe in magic for a moment. We’ve grown so used to the “magic” of technology that we hardly even question it, but seeing magic performed is always full of surprises. The way it plays tricks on your brain gives you that rush of adrenaline a lot of us are always searching for.



What is it about Champions of Magic that continues to draw large audiences on 6 UK tours and 3 North American tours over the past six years? 

Champions of Magic is constantly evolving and bringing in new and exciting acts. It continues to grow on a larger scale so there is always something new to see even if you see the show more than once. The personality of our cast really shines through, and there is a lot of collaboration between magicians which really sets us apart.



Life on the road isn’t all glory and glamour.  There are tight schedules, never-ending bus rides, questionable accommodations, missed connections, and broken or disappearing props.  Tell us about your most memorable touring misadventure. 

There are constantly little things going wrong on stage. Magic is so detail oriented that there is a lot of room for error. Our crew and cast are top notch at correcting these things though so I doubt the audience would even be able to notice. It can get very stressful, but it’s also part of what keeps the job so new and exciting every night for me. Coming from a dance background where every moment on stage is typically precisely choreographed, it’s been an adjustment but usually a fun one.



You toured with Champions of Magic in Canada in 2019, and 2020.  After a two year absence, what are you most looking forward to on your return to Canada in early 2022?. 

The audience in Canada is some of the best I’ve experienced so I’m definitely looking forward to hearing their reaction to the show after 2 long years. I’m used to LA weather so I can’t say I’m a fan of the cold (at these shows you can find me huddled backstage with a heating pad), but it is a nice change of pace to feel like I’m inside a snow globe.
 Marissa in Mexico with Champions of Magic.
Source: Instagram. 
The Great Pause (COVID Lockdowns)
Did you experience any silver linings? 
While I truly love traveling and touring, it was nice to finally spend some time at home enjoying LA. I haven’t had that much free time in my entire life so it was a nice reset.

What was your comfort binge?
I have an obsession with the reality show Survivor so I spent an embarrassing amount of time binging that. Maybe some day I’ll get on and show Jeff Probst I can Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast. I also read well over 100 books, so binge reading served as the best form of escapism.
Were you able to explore your personal passions?
Because I was finally in one place for a long period of time, I got a LOT of training in. I started cross training more apparatuses (I now do aerial silks, lyra, trapeze, rope, pole, and hammock) and I grew so much as an athlete and artist. I finally had time to work on some personal creative projects as well as working with friends on visions of their own. I also started to train in fire performance with my newfound free time. As of now I do fire eating and fire fans, which has been so fun to learn and add to my list of specialties.

Did The Great Pause allow you to do anything that you wouldn't likely have been able to accomplish if you were touring?

A lot of people around the world started teaching online classes for the first time. Because of this I was able to train with instructors I otherwise wouldn’t have in dance, contortion, hand balancing, and fans.

How did you keep your skills fresh and performance ready?
I rent space frequently to workshop new skills and ideas, so I run my act for Champions of Magic when I’m there to keep it locked in muscle memory. Making changes here and there keeps my performance new and exciting for me.


Was there anything particularly memorable about your first live performance after The Great Pause?

My first time back in the air for an audience I was being annoyingly repetitive to anyone who would listen about how happy I was. Filming and being on a set is great, but the adrenaline rush that comes with performing live is unlike anything else.
What was it like travelling and performing with Champions of Magic in Mexico during the pandemic?
I really enjoyed our time in Mexico. Everyone was so hospitable and the city and shows were a ton of fun. I was initially nervous to be traveling, but they really did everything in their power to keep us and the audience safe.
Have audience reactions to live magic performances changed after Lockdown? 
I’ve been theorizing since the start of the Great Quar (as I call it) that people would be so hungry for live entertainment once shows are able to reopen. I think audiences are more ready than ever to experience the thrill that comes with seeing large scale illusions performed on the big stage.
In September, we learned that Hollie England will be joining the Champions of Magic family.
How will you welcome Hollie into the Champions family?

I’m really looking forward to seeing Hollie in action! I always love watching performances that are new to me and I know she’ll have so much to add to the show.

What advice do you have for Hollie to help her thrive in the Champions family?
The biggest piece of advice that I received when I joined the team was to just be along for the ride and enjoy the experience. I’d pass that along because it’s been a great mental reframe for me when things inevitably get stressful or frustrating. In the end we have some of the best jobs in the world and the rest is just small potatoes.

If you could go back in time to study (magic or otherwise) under anybody, who would you choose to be your mentor?
This is probably a boring answer, but I’m so grateful for the high caliber of coaching I’m able to receive that I can’t think of anyone I would trade for that. The talent of the past were the building blocks for what is able to be taught in the present.
What’s your go-to Karaoke song?

Easy, Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis. I still sound like a dying cat when I sing it but I know the lyrics so well it’s mindless and fun. 
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I may not have had much exposure to magic prior to joining Champions of Magic, but I know it’s something I’ll enjoy long after my time with this show. All of my friends and family that have come to watch haven’t been able to stop talking about how great an experience it was to see the show the first and even second time. 

So looking forward to being back to performing in Canada!


Thank you Marissa, for making the time to answer our questions!

Catch the Champions of Magic in Kitchener and Peterborough early 2022! 

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